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Educational Research

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In the context of a fundamental restructuring of preclinical medical studies towards more science as part of the core science curriculum, the departments of Medical Psychology / Sociology, General Medicine, and History and Ethics of Medicine are planning to jointly create a teaching format in which tutor-supported scientific elements are taught and practiced.

Following the experience gained in the Tempiprakt project, in which an elective course with 20 medical students independently designed, conducted and evaluated a study in the second semester, all students in the preclinical section of the medical degree program in Heidelberg are now to complete a practical empirical internship.

Building on the experience gained in the elective course, a new interdisciplinary internship will be held in collaboration with the Department of General Medicine and Health Services Research starting in the summer semester of 2024. Students in the third and fourth semesters will independently collect scientific data on the topic of doctor-patient communication in family doctor practices and learn to evaluate and critically discuss the collected data in four seminar sessions.

Duration of the project: 01.03.2023 - 15.10.2025

Funding: Office of the Dean of Studies of the Medical Faculty of Heidelberg University

Project Management: Julia Mahal; Nadia Primc; Tewes Wischmann, Svetla Loukanova, Beate Ditzen

Project team members: Xenia Krohmer

Contact persons: Xenia Krohmer


TEmpiPrakt is designed to promote scholarship in medical studies. Medical students in their second and third semesters independently designed a scientific study (supported by tutors) as part of an elective course, carried it out and evaluated the data at the end. The randomized controlled study conducted by the students evaluated the effect of two relaxation procedures on subjective relaxation and problem-solving behavior compared to a control group. Study participants in the intervention groups either listened to a Yoga Nidra audio file several times for 2 weeks or used a meditation app ("7mind"). Before and after, questionnaires with questions on subjective relaxation or stress experience and thinking and concentration tasks were answered. The study is registered under DRKS00028884.

The results of the pilot teaching project showed that an integration of scientific work into the curriculum of medical psychology is possible with good preparation in advance and is well accepted and explicitly desired by the Heidelberg students.

Duration of the project: 01.01.2022 - 31.12.2022

Funding: Office of the Dean of Studies of the Medical Faculty of Heidelberg University

Project management: Tewes Wischmann, Julia Mahal, Beate Ditzen

Project staff: Xenia Krohmer, Vivienne Spruck

Contact person: Xenia Krohmer

"Challenge - meeting challenging conversational situations competently".

In the preclinical as well as in the clinical study section, the practice of challenging medical situations is still underrepresented. Although training in communication skills to shape the doctor-patient relationship is now an integral part of medical training and has been shown to improve treatment and treatment satisfaction in the long term, physicians have so far felt inadequately prepared to deal with challenging conversational situations.

In the project "Challenge - meeting challenging conversation situations competently", a total of 10 film scenarios, each lasting about 10 minutes, were shot from the perspective of a third party, so that the events can be viewed and experienced "from the outside". The films are based on real situations that the clinicians themselves have experienced in their daily work and which they remember as particularly challenging. Based on these situations, detailed scripts were developed by the project team in close consultation with the clinicians, which formed the basis of these videos for the actor-patients and the clinicians.

The challenging conversation presented is interrupted twice at points important for the success of the conversation and the viewer is interactively involved in the conversation and asked how the conversation could be continued. For this purpose, three answer options are provided, which are also shown on film. In this way, the more positive or negative effects of the chosen option can be directly observed and experienced on the basis of the patients' reactions. After selecting the answer, information on the appropriateness of the selected answer alternative appears.

Duration of the project: 01.04.2021-31.03.2022

Funding: Quality assurance funds of the Heidelberg Medical Student Council

Project management: Tewes Wischmann, Julia Mahal, Beate Ditzen

Project staff: Katja Schmalenberger

Contact person: Julia Mahal

Development, implementation and evaluation of an interactive online teaching platform 'Medical Psychology/Medical Sociology'.

The goal of the "Conversation Series Medical Psychology" is to exemplify and present different conversation situations from different fields of medicine, in which physicians and patients interact with each other. The conversational situations are presented through 14 videos and supported by theoretical texts. In addition, it contains informational chapters that provide further information on the topics shown in the educational videos.

At the end of each chapter there are one or more exercises in which the users of the online teaching offer can practice the knowledge they have acquired through the accompanying texts using practical examples.

As a special didactic feature of the "Conversations in Medical Psychology" concept, all the teaching videos have been embedded in an overarching chronological frame story that describes the life of the fictional Meier family over several decades. The development of the family can be traced through the teaching videos in a life-cycle progression. In this way, the doctor-patient videos can represent many different areas of the patients' lives.

The target audience for the teaching videos are medical students as well as lecturers who teach content on doctor-patient communication.

The "Medical Psychology Conversation Series" has been available from Thieme-Verlag since April 2019 (free of charge for students at Heidelberg University; here are the instructions under Moodle).

Term: 2016-2018
Funding: Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts Baden-Württemberg within the framework of the special line medicine - funding line teaching to improve the quality of teaching and Fachschaft Medizin Universität Heidelberg.
Management: Beate Ditzen, Tewes Wischmann
Contact: Julia Mahal
Evidence-based communication and professional action

An essential core competency for the practice of medicine is communication skills. In recent years, the neurobiological basis for social perception, stress, strain and neurocognitive performance as well as findings on evidence-based medicine and risk communication have fundamentally changed the scientific understanding of medical communication behavior. The project "Evidence-based communication and professional action" aims to integrate the scientific basis for communicative action into the curriculum within medical studies. Based on the latest scientific findings, the existing communication curriculum and the examination program are to be revised and further developed in a science- and evidence-based manner. For the first time, a cross-subject and cross-semester script will be created, which will serve as a common thread for the students and facilitate the transfer into clinical practice.

For this purpose, we are collaborating with the Department of Psychiatry, the Department of General Internal Medicine and Psychosomatics, and the Department of Biometry. Learn more


Franziska Bässler, Beate Ditzen, Daniela Roesch-Ely, Anja Sander and Jobst-Hendrik Schultz.

Contact on the part of Medical Psychology:

Sophie Schweizer, Monika Eckstein

Working group:

N. Deis, A. Herrler, Dr. S. Lommer-Steinhoff, Prof. Dr. C. Nikendei (Senior Advisor), A. Schaal-Ardicoglu, PD Dr. JH. Schultz, Prof. Dr. B. Ditzen, Dr. M. Eckstein, F. Ibert, Dr. S. Schweizer, H. Honecker, S. Preussler, A. Sander, I. Rek, and Prof. Dr. D. Rösch-Ely.

Exploratory survey of working physicians on the improvement of teaching in medical psychology

In this PhD project (Dr. med. dent.) online physicians in practice and clinic will be surveyed about the subjectively assessed importance of teaching in medical psychology/sociology for the current professional activity. The results will be used to develop concepts for improving current teaching.